Seven Years War Significance;5 Facts You Must Know

Seven Years War Significance.The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) took place in the heart of Europe, in the Germanic Empire, but also in America,Asia and Africa. This is certainly the most costly conflict XVIII th century, humanly and financially. At the end of the Treaty of Paris of 1763, France lost Canada and the Indian Empire to the benefit of the British crown; in Europe, Prussia is emerging as an emerging power.

Seven Years War Significance;5 Facts You Must Know


The Franco-English clash over the constitution of a colonial empire in India and America, the desire of Marie-Thérèse to take Silesia back from Prussia caused a reversal of alliances. From 1755, Europe was divided into two camps: by the Treaty of Westminster (1756), England and Prussia undertook to push back from German soil any foreign invasion (George II seeking to protect Hanover); by the first Treaty of Versailles (1756), Austria, already an ally of Russia, entered into a defensive alliance with France. Sweden, most of the German princes then the Bourbons of Naples, Parma and Madrid (united with France in the Family Pact) also entered into the conflict. England and France are fighting at sea and in the colonies, Prussia and the European coalition on the continent. The two simultaneous wars last for seven years.


The start of the war was unfavorable to Frederick II (defeat of Kolín, June 1757). He must evacuate Bohemia, while the Russians enter East Prussia, the Swedes in Pomerania and Marshal Richelieu occupies Hanover (English surrender to Kloster Zeven, September 1757). He then won victories (Rossbach over the French, Leuthen over the Austrians, Zorndorf over the Russians) in 1757-1758. Then the fight is uncertain (entry into Berlin of the Austro-Russians in October 1760, occupation of Saxony and Silesia by the Imperialists). But Peter III becomes Tsar of Russia. Admirer of Frederick II, he returned his conquests to him, imitated by Sweden. After Burkersdorf’s victory (July 1762) over Austria, the latter, exhausted, entered into peace negotiations.


England took the advantage over France, which suffered defeats on its own coasts (Quiberon, 1759), in North America (losses at Louisbourg, Quebec, Montreal, 1760), and finally in India, where Lally Tollendal failed before Madras (1758-1759), while the French counters fell into the hands of the English. The extension of hostilities and new failures push Louis XV to make peace with England.


The two treaties of February 1763 (Treaty of Paris between France and England, Treaty of Hubertsburg between Austria and Prussia) consecrate the victory of England, mistress of the seas, which stole from France vast colonial possessions (Canada, East Louisiana, part of the Antilles, Senegal), and Prussia, which became one of the first military powers in Europe.

The Seven Years’ War unfolds on two fronts, land and sea: from 1756 to 1763, a European continental conflict opposed Prussia and Austria with their respective allies, and this time France was an ally of Austria (a first since Francis I st ). From 1755 to 1763, the extra-European conflict was spread over two major groups: North America and the West Indian archipelago on the one hand, Africa, the Indian Ocean and India on the other. The Franco-English confrontation becomes a maritime and colonial war on a world scale.

Naval battle between the English squadron of Admirals Osborne and Saunders and the French squadron of Duquesne, off Cartagena (Spain), February 25, 1758. Hennin Collection, Prints relating to the History of France, volume 103, period 1758 -1759, BNF. © BNF, public domain

In spite of the many English military successes of the year 1762, it is the government of King George III which asks to initiate the preliminaries of peace, signed at Fontainebleau in November 1762. The definitive treaty is that of Paris, signed between England, France and Spain, February 10, 1763: it will be used to redefine their respective colonial domains.

Seven Years War Significance;5 Facts You Must Know

Global negotiations

On the French side, the negotiation carries mainly on the conservation of economic interests: Louis XV and his minister Choiseul strive to maintain the foundations of the great colonial trade, that is to say “empire sugar” French, the trade triangular (the slave trade) and the counters of the Indies. They will not hesitate to sacrifice the continental possessions of North America.

The first discussions concern the fate of the American colonies, New France and the Antilles . George III and his Prime Minister do not want to keep all the conquests: they fear that Guadeloupe and Martinique will compete with the commercial interests of Jamaica (English possession). On the other hand, under the pressure of the colonists of New England, they wish to keep Canada, which coincides with the French position. Indeed, the economy of New France, compared to that of the metropolis, is considered of little interest apart from the fur trade, the only export trade considered profitable. The “sugar islands” (the Antilles thus nicknamed) constitute a major stake for the French colonial trade and must be recovered at all costs.

Diplomatic success for France

Louis XV and Choiseul did not hesitate between Canada and the Antilles: they felt that by recovering the Antilles, they achieved diplomatic success. The analysis of the clauses of the treaty shows that the abandonment of North America is total: France renounces Canada, Louisiana east of the Mississippi except New Orleans. In fact, she secretly pledged to surrender western Louisiana to Spain, as compensation for the cession of Spanish Florida to England. France only retains the freedom of fishing on the north coast of Newfoundland and the islands of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon: these concessions made for economic reasons to Norman and Basque fishermen will be at the

In Africa, France loses its commercial establishments in Saint-Louis of Senegal but keeps the island of Gorée for the maintenance of the slave trade. The domain of the Indies, after having represented two thirds of the Indian subcontinent, now consists of five counters: Pondicherry  devastated by the English in 1761, Chandernagor, Yanaon, Karikal and Mahé. France retains the Mascarene Islands (Réunion, Mauritius, Rodrigues) in the Indian Ocean.

Naval combat of Port Mahon in May 1756: the French squadron of the Marquis de La Galissonière wins the victory over the English squadron of Admiral Byng, for the control of the island of Menorca. Hennin Collection, Prints relating to the History of France, volume 172, period 1643-1824, BNF. © BNF, public domain

The French government is very satisfied with the success of its diplomacy which, according to it, made it possible to limit the disastrous effects of the war. Voltaire approves in a letter written to Choiseul: “  I am like the pub like peace much better than Canada, and I believe that France can be happy without Quebec. The French ports which practiced an important trade with New France, like La Rochelle, tried to protest during the negotiations of the Treaty of Paris but their complaints appear as the defense of private interests, therefore of little interest to the with regard to those of the Compagnie des Indes , to be preserved as a priority according to the French monarchy.

The significance of the Seven Years’ War in Eastern Europe.

Panic in Prussia Prussia had to wait until 1757 to resume the offensive, this time directed against the Habsburg territories. Frederick II particularly targets the capital of Bohemia, Prague. He besieges the city but then has to face a counter-attack led by the Austrian Marshal Daun which forces him to accept a pitched battle. Against all expectations, the Battle of Kolin in June 1757 ended with a clear Austrian victory and put an end to Prussia’s reputation for invincibility.

Defeated, King Frederick had to fall back but he was not pursued by the Austrian army because of Daun’s undoubtedly excessive prudence. At the same time, Russia enters the war against Prussia , occupies the city of Memel and pushes a Prussian body at the battle of Gross-Jägersdorf. It cannot then besiege Könisberg and must fall back and give up all its gains. However, the entry into war of this new state, with its immense army, poses a serious threat to Frederick II. In addition, taking advantage of its apparent weakness, Sweden attacked it in turn, sending its forces to Pomerania while France advanced east.

Continuation of the Seven Years’ War in America;Significance.

After Rossbach, the French army no longer fought against Prussia, but was content to attack the Hanoverian forces, reinforced by a British contingent and Prussian troops, in West Germany. It obtained little success, however, and was defeated by Ferdinand de Brunswick-Lünebourg in Krefeld in June 1758. The French, however, managed to maintain positions on the Rhine.

The victories of the Marquis de Montcalm in America The situation in North America seems much more promising for the Kingdom of the Bourbons despite its numerical inferiority vis-à-vis the British enemy. In 1756, the French army, led by the Marquis de Montcalm , annihilated a British corps commanded by General Braddock. The following year, he launched an offensive and took Fort William-Henry , which seemed to open the door to Albany (now located in New York State). If he could not launch an offensive for lack of men, Montcalm achieved a new success in 1758 at the battle of Fort Carillon where he managed to push back an English army five times greater in number.   A change in the balance of power However, the future quickly darkens after this victory.

The principal French minister, the Marquis de Choiseul, decided to concentrate on Europe from 1758, especially as the action of the Royal Navy hampered the supply of the French colonies in America. As the French focus on the possibility of an invasion of Great Britain, in a reverse move, the British are strengthening their own positions in North America. This increasingly unfavorable balance of power for Montcalm prevented him from launching a major offensive against the British colonies and quickly forced him to wage a defensive war.

Seven Years War Significance;5 Facts You Must Know.

The end of the Seven Years’ War: a new balance of power

The term “Seven Years’ War” actually designates two conflicts , which have become increasingly distinct in the course of military operations. On the one hand, a struggle between Prussia and the Austro-Russian alliance (reinforced incidentally by Sweden) for supremacy in central Europe. On the other hand, a ruthless confrontation on a world scale between France and Great Britain, the latter relying largely on the forces of the electorate of Hanover and its German allies in Europe.

As for the Franco-English confrontation, it ends with a final victory for the latter. In the Treaty of Paris, signed on February 10, 1763 , France lost all of its Canadian possessions and also ceded eastern Louisiana (east of the Mississippi) and several Caribbean islands to Great Britain. In fact, as early as 1762, it had also ceded Louisiana to Spain in order to draw it into the conflict. An intervention which moreover had proved disastrous …

The British also obtained Florida, to the detriment of Spain, but returned to France its Indian possessions occupied during the war. Beyond the territorial losses, the prestige of the French monarchy was seriously damaged during this conflict. Defeated in America and India, its army also suffered a succession of embarrassing defeats against Hanover, it is true supported by British and sometimes Prussian troops in Germany. While Austria relied on France in its fight against Prussia, it quickly had to turn to Russia, whose intervention proved to be more effective. Finally, the Treaty of Paris put a de facto end to the colonial expansion of the kingdom of France, at the very moment when Great Britain set out to conquer most of India.


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